A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Thankful for a supportive partner!

on September 10, 2014

My secret weapon is definitely my awesome and supportive husband. Last night, I told my husband that I needed to do some work at night on the big work project I have coming due and his first (okay second – the first was “you mean you aren’t going to watch the rest of the Desolation of Smaug with me) comment was “What can I do to help?”

My two favorite guys getting silly.

My two favorite guys getting silly.

That’s just who he is and I am fantastically lucky. That was his response when I was ready to start losing weight, when I wanted to start running, when I wanted to run longer races, when I wanted to start a blog, everything. Every step of the way in every part of my life since we met, he has been there to help me and I could  not have achieved anything without him.

Not every one is so lucky, I know. It can be hard to make changes to your lifestyle when your partner isn’t supportive of those changes and it can be hard, as the partner, to know how to support someone without pushing. I read a blurb in Eating Well this month talking about a study in which women were more likely to binge if their partners told them they needed to lose weight. As someone who hid in the bathroom inhaling white bread anytime my family mentioned anything to me about my weight, I can definitely believe that. With that in mind, and in gratitude for my lovely partner, I thought we’d talk about some ways to get more support when one of you (but maybe not both of you) in a relationship wants to make lifestyle changes. These are things that may help if you’re in a healthy but maybe a little confused relationship – if you’re in a psychologically or otherwise abusive relationship, please be careful and seek out professional counseling/help.

Discuss your goals: Talk about what you want to change and why. Sometimes our partners can feel threatened or concerned about big changes if they don’t understand the motivations behind them. It might trigger feelings of guilt about healthy changes they need to make. If your partner is resistant, try to figure out why. There may be some middle ground. For example, my husband generally finds meatless meals unsatisfying, so if I’m offering a lot of those as options he’s more likely to eat more unhealthy things later to make up for it. That certainly isn’t good for him and is the last thing I want, so we’ve worked on coming up with meal modifications we can make to satisfy both of us (see my post on cooking when your partner isn’t on the weight loss wagon here). It’s unlikely that your partner really wants you to be unhealthy, so you should be able to find some middle ground. It can also be helpful for you, psychologically, to really think through and spell out exactly what you want to change and why. Remembering your why is a powerful thing.

Ask specifically for the help you need: Even a partner who wants to support you, may not know exactly how to do that without pushing too hard or offending you or complicating things. It helps to say specifically “I need you to keep any candy at work” or “I need 20 minutes to go for a walk without the kids”. By giving concrete tasks for your partner to help you with, you’ll find it easier to come up with a solution to your issue. They might also think of a solution you haven’t considered yet yourself.

Assume the best: In most cases, that thing your partner said about how you look or your exercise or what you made for dinner is coming from a place of love, no matter how awkwardly it comes out. Life is stressful enough – try to listen things in the rosiest possible light rather than perceiving everything as a veiled insult. I’ve talked to lots of men who are actually afraid to compliment their girlfriends/wives on their progress because they’re worried the women will think that means they didn’t look good before. I know I myself might have taken it that way at times, so their fears are not unfounded. Similarly, when they’re offering you “just one treat” they probably aren’t trying to sabotage you – they just remember that it is something that made you happy in the past and are trying to share. Like the other tips, this really is about being honest and open in communication with your partner, which is scary but worth it.

Find support from other sources: It can be overwhelming for one person to be your sole support. Even a partner with the best intentions is going to have a bad day or get tired of listening to the joys of kale or whatever. Find friends or co-workers or online support groups (message boards, Facebook groups, blogs) so that you have someone else who is in the midst of this process with you and is as invested as you are. I know my husband is grateful I have this outlet for talking about these things so that he doesn’t always have to listen to my over-thinking of these things! This is also helpful if you really aren’t getting any support at all at home. We all need someone and thankfully with the wonder of the internet, you can always find someone who understands what you’re going through.

Resist the urge to push them to join you: A good way to turn off of a supportive partner is preaching and pushing your healthy lifestyle. If you got to the point where you’ve started to make changes, you know how hard it is to get to that point and how hard it is to be ready. Everyone gets there in their own time and their own way. Let your healthy lifestyle speak for itself, in terms of how easy it is to live with and how much better you feel. Make gradual changes in how active your “together” leisure time is or healthier food options in the house. Don’t push. Don’t preach. You don’t want them to be your food or workout cop, so don’t try to be theirs (especially uninvited!) Just like you knew you were overweight or out of shape or whatever before you made changes, I promise you they know too. They just aren’t ready yet. It’s okay. Your example will help them get there more than your nagging ever will.

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Having a partner who supported me has been so helpful, even though he wasn’t trying to make the same changes. It took some honest conversations, which were difficult for me sometimes, in terms of baring my ugly binge-y demons and problems with my self-image, but who better to be this open and honest with than your partner?

Has your partner been supportive of your lifestyle changes? What hurdles have you had to work through together?

PS I like this article over on SparkPeople: Is Weight-Loss Hurting Your Relationship? about some of the emotional problems we might encounter during this process!

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8 responses to “Weight Loss Wednesday: Thankful for a supportive partner!

  1. Kristin says:

    SO sweet!!! Lovely post and I’m loving your pictures!! Adorable!! It’s truly a blessing to have such a supportive husband!! My husband has supported my life goals every step of the way!!

  2. My husband has been my biggest supporter in absolutely everything! From my weight loss goals to wanting to run a half and full marathon, and everything in between! I feel so blessed to have him as my partner in life. :0)

  3. Ah, Desolation of Smaug is such a good movie! 🙂 It is so true that a supportive partner is such an important part of any lifestyle change and I’m so glad that your husband is such a great support for you! I’m lucky that my hubs is supportive, too. I completely agree with the tip about assuming the best; I know that I am ultra sensitive in general so I have to be careful not to over analyze. It is also so important to be specific when you ask for help. I find this to be the case with losing weight/working out and in general with household chores with my hubby. 🙂

    • For as much as I LOVE the LOTR movies, I am not loving the Hobbit movies. I’m not particularly invested in the characters, which is the biggest problem.

      Definitely true with household chores! If I’m not specific, who knows how my husband would try to solve the problem there 🙂

  4. Aww love this post! My hubby is my best supporter too!

    • I’m always sad for people who don’t get such great partner support. This is hard enough as it is! Glad your hubby is such a good teammate 🙂 And a little envious that you can get him on board with home improvement projects!

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